Sajee Rod/Shutterstock Keeping your wrists straight can help relieve the pressure on your median nerve. Symptoms are more common at night, so wearing a splint in the evening may help relieve your symptoms before they start. If you have issues with repetitive tasks at work, you can also wear wrist splints during the day. “The purpose of the splint is to keep the wrist in a neutral position keeping the tunnel open and preventing pressure on the nerve,” says Dr. Liberman. “We tend to sleep with our wrists bent, which exacerbates the symptoms. These splints can also be worn during an activity that exacerbates the symptoms.”
Mr Doomits/Shutterstock Mild cases may respond well to anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen, says Dr. Liberman. “Some patients find that other anti-inflammatory techniques such as acupuncture and natural anti-inflammatory compounds such as turmeric and omega-3 can help mild cases,” says Dr. Clark Hay. However, he warns that persistent or worsening symptoms such as burning or tingling that becomes constant, the onset of persistent numbness or the onset of weakness can become permanent if left untreated. (These are signs that your joint pain is something way more serious.)
When home remedies don’t work
Andrei R/Shutterstock If you’re not finding relief with these carpal tunnel treatments, the next step is a steroid injection, says Dr. Liberman. “The steroid injection reduces inflammation, which leads to additional space in the tunnel and less pressure on the median nerve,” she says. The success rate is high: 90 percent of patients get relief from their symptoms from steroid injections. Alternatively, surgery will usually cure carpal tunnel. “Modern surgical techniques, mini open surgery or endoscopic surgery allow us to give the vast majority of patients near-complete relief of their symptoms if they have not waited too long and developed permanent nerve injury,” says Dr. Clark Hay.
For anyone with carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s important to take action quickly. “Don’t wait more than 2-3 months to see your local hand surgeon or orthopedic specialist,” says the head of Skills 4 Living Therapy, Jeanne Harper, who has 30 years of occupational therapy experience and a certification in Hand Therapy (CHT). “Prolonged compression can cause nerve damage and a longer rehab post surgery period.”
Patience is also required. “As with any overuse syndrome or injury, remedies take a while and aren’t quick fixes,” says Baxter.